Cocaine is a drug extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. It is a potent brain stimulant and one of the most powerfully addictive drugs. Crack is a derivative of cocaine.[1]

Also known as blow, coke and snow, among other slang terms, cocaine is distributed illegally in two main forms: cocaine hydrochloride is a white crystalline powder, and “crack” is cocaine hydrochloride that has been processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water into a ‘freebase’ cocaine — chips, chunks or rocks.

Cocaine can be snorted, rubbed into the gums or dissolved in water and injected. Crack can be smoked.[2]

Cocaine and crack produce a euphoric ‘rush’ and immediate high upon snorting, injecting or smoking that provides a burst of energy and reduced fatigue.

Understand the risks

Cocaine’s effects are short lived, and once the drug leaves the brain, it leads to a “coke crash” that includes depression, irritability, and fatigue. Smoking cocaine / crack can produce a particularly aggressive paranoid behavior. When addicted individuals stop using cocaine, they often become depressed. Prolonged cocaine snorting can result in damage of the mucous membrane of the nose.2

Identify & address use

Signs of use include restlessness, irritability and anxiety, dilated pupils, increased heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia and loss of appetite. If you’re concerned your child may be using cocaine or other substances, the following can help you address their behavior more effectively.